Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels,
each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels,
and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Why write???

A teacher in one of my workshops asked me why I write books for teachers. Classroom Motivation from A to Z was my first book, and I wrote it because I meet many teachers who feel as though they are fighting a losing battle. Too often, we only focus on what is wrong with schools, and in many cases, the solution is to buy the latest program or product which will “fix” what’s wrong.

As I said in my introduction, “

There is an old saying used in medical schools: "If you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras." It was used in response to medical students who looked for exotic diagnoses for basic illnesses. Some teachers fall into the same trap. We look for the latest quick fix to help us deal with the ever-increasing challenges we face with today's students. The solution to many of the challenges you face is not purchasing the latest program; it is a focused effort to provide your students an environment in which they can thrive.”

I’ve worked for three educational publishing companies and know that programs aren’t the solution, they are simply tools that can assist teachers do what they know how to do best, which is reach and help their students. I meet great teachers everyday, and I see example after example of strategies and activities that help students learn. Most of these seem basic, but when used consistently and appropriately, students learn and teachers see the difference. So, my first goal in writing Classroom Motivation was to share some of these strategies with other teachers.

But I also wanted to write a book that reminds teachers of their value. I believe that teachers change the world everyday; but you don’t always see the results. Sam Myers, from Sumter 17 School District in South Carolina says, “On your worst day, you are someone’s best hope.” That’s a strong reminder of the positive power of a teacher.

If you’d like to read an excerpt from the book (chapters A: Achievement is More than a Test Score; E: Engagement Equals Success; and Y: You are the Key), head over to my website, www.barbarablackburnonline.com. You’ll also find downloadable templates from the book and handouts from many of my workshops.

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